A dedicated football coach who is severely deaf has spoken of his honour after being nominated for this year’s Best of Northumberland Awards, which celebrate unsung community heroes.
Despite being born with a hearing impediment, determined Josh Rutherford has never let his disability hold him back.
The 22-year-old, who wears hearing aids, even turned down a chance to play for England’s deaf football team in his teens, because he wanted to continue participating in mainstream sport and ‘didn’t want to get special treatment’.
For the past two years, the Amble man has headed up thriving coaching academy Tiny Woods with childhood friend Jamie Dixon, who is also from the town.
The classes, aimed at children aged three to 13, have gone from strength-to-strength and the pair have more than 200 youngsters on the books.
But even though Josh gives hours-upon-hours of his time to help develop the skills of junior footballers, he says he is shocked to be nominated for the Best of Northumberland Awards.
He said: “I am gobsmacked. It is nice to be recognised for your hard work and I feel very privileged, although I have to admit, I have to thank my sidekick Jamie who also puts in a lot of hard work.”
Tiny Woods caters for youngsters from areas such as Amble, Red Row and Stobswood, among other places, incorporating all abilities.
Josh has previously worked with children with cerebral palsy or Down’s syndrome and he admits that coaching disabled children was a rewarding experience.
“To see their smiles when they come up trumps or get success is a great feeling,” said Josh, a former pupil at Amble’s Coquet High School.
Degree-educated Josh has several coaching qualifications. In 2014, he was named Northumberland County FA Coach of the Year. Josh and Jamie received an award earlier this year from the High Sheriff of Northumberland for their Tiny Woods work.
Josh has been nominated across three categories for this year’s Best of Northumberland Awards; Community Champion, Community Group and Sporting Achievement.
Other categories are Child of Courage; Emergency Services Award; Role Model; Green Champion; Child of Achievement; Fund-raiser of the Year; Good Neighbour; Volunteer of the Year; Lifetime Contribution. The awards are organised by Northeast Press and Tweeddale Press and we are encouraging nominations.
Visit www.jpne-events.co.uk/best-of-northumberland/ and nominate before the Thursday, August 27 deadline.
The awards ceremony is at Linden Hall on Thursday, September 10.